My Story

So this is about me, a mother, but a mother with no child. A journey through life that was not chosen, but forced upon me on 14th December 2014.

27th November 2013 – A day that would define me as a person, the day my beautiful William Oscar Mead came into this world, also my birthday, it was meant to be.

14th December 2014 – A day that would change me as a person, the day my beautiful William Oscar Mead became an angel, this was not meant to be.

Welcome to my blog, a mother without a child. I guess this blog and the posts are my thoughts, an inner dialogue with myself. Perhaps the ability to be able to write what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling and read it back to myself, almost makes those thoughts real, because nothing about my situation feels real.

William or Grumpus as he was affectionately known died on Sunday 14th December 2014. Grumpus had been under the weather the previous week, he’d had his booster on the Monday, was teething and had a cough but by the Friday he’d gone off his food and his temperature had soared whilst at nursery so we took him straight to the doctors, where his temperature was taken, it was 40.1c. They checked for a rash, nothing, checked his ears, fine, checked his throat, fine, listened to his chest, clear. The lack of these ‘red flag’ symptoms meant we were sent home despite the alarmingly high temperature and told to give Grumpus Calpol for the temperature and Nurofen for the discomfort. “Don’t worry it’s nothing grisly” he said, “he’ll be better in 48 hours”.

The photo that earned William his nickname, 'Grumpus'

The photo that earned William his nickname, ‘Grumpus’

On the face of it that might seem ok, just a winter cough, reaction to the booster, teething, all of which we accepted, after all, we weren’t doctors. Neurotic, over protective, worried and flustered first time parents maybe, but not doctors.

So, arriving home William had Calpol and Nurofen and lots of cuddles, his temperature soon started coming down so he was a little more comfortable, exhausted and tired he went to bed. William was stirring quite a lot during the evening so I went in to give him some more Calpol, Nurofen and cuddles. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed, cradling him, he soon settled and fell asleep in my arms. Snuggled in close to my neck, held so close so he felt warm, safe and secure. There I sat for 3 and a half hours, he stirred again and was trying to stretch, so I placed him back in his cot, put his arm around his favourite reindeer and left him to sleep.

Saturday morning William woke early, not hungry, still with a fever, and lethargic. I knew that my Saturday would be spent giving him sips of water and having lots of cuddles with my favourite little person. As the day wore on, I saw no improvement, so a little worried I called 111, I explained the situation and was advised it wasn’t a medical emergency so he would ask an out of hours doctor to call me back, “we are very busy today” the call handler told me, “it might be a few hours before we call you back”.

6.53pm the doctor called back. I had just put William to bed, tucked up in his sleeping bag, and he had just nodded off with his reindeer. I explained the situation including how he had been poorly in the months leading up to today, very thoroughly and succinctly. Explaining that it was now over 24 hours since seeing the doctor, I was concerned there was no improvement, in fact I felt he was worse, he was now vomiting, bile, with no food in his stomach. He was completely lethargic and had no energy, all he wanted to do was sleep and he was in some discomfort. I asked in his professional opinion should he be seen? The doctor said that it was probably a viral infection and would get better without treatment, he was In the best place and that I should leave him be in bed. Although still worried I felt reassured, by the doctor on the Friday, the 111 call handler and now the out of hours doctor, William was asleep, warm and comfortable In bed. I remained on the phone for several minutes with the doctor, myself questioning and the doctor reassuring.

We checked on Grumpus before bed, he was a little unsettled, sat up had a little drink but almost immediately put himself back to sleep. We checked on him through the night and he was ok, asleep, moving around. 5am, he moved around his cot for about 10 minutes, blinking at the camera, he looked, we watched. He had a little drink and went back to sleep. We both thought, brilliant, he seems more alert, in a couple of hours he’ll be sat up babbling to himself that he was hungry and wanted his porridge.

Just after 8 I woke up, William looked asleep and was not stirring, not unusual, he had been exhausted and was probably tired, so I thought I would give him a little more time before stirring him.

I opened his bedroom door slowly so as not to wake him up with a startle. It was dark, I could see him but could not really make his features out. I stroked his cheek it was warm but he didn’t stir, I knelt down and put my arm through the cot bars and stroked his arm, it was cold, I stood, and stroked his side, he was stiff. I opened the curtains as quickly as I could, I took one step to the cot, and I knew he was gone,

We gave William CPR until the paramedics arrived in 3 minutes and 55 seconds when they took over, but there was nothing they could do. My beautiful boy, the love of my life was gone. That’s when the screaming started, until my instincts as mum kicked in, I needed to hold him to take him to hospital, to look after him, that was my job, no-one else. We were taken to the hospital, holding him all the way, where I held him tight apart from when they examined him. I held him until they told me I had to let him go, “where are you taking him” I asked, “the mortuary” the doctor quietly responded. I would take him I told them, so I stood up, holding William still wrapped in his blanket and walked through the hospital guided by the doctor to the mortuary. When I had to put William in the arms of the mortician I think i lost control, I can’t remember, I can’t remember much else from that day. That day passed in a daze of doctors, paediatrician’s, police (because he died at home), rapid response practitioners and people I can’t even remember.

Life as I knew it was over, everything was over, my questions began, why couldn’t they save him? Why William? What was wrong with him? When would he be coming home?

We soon found out from the coroner the preliminary cause of death; abscess of the left upper lung lobe contributing to a pleural empyema. It was soon revealed from his blood tests that he was suffering from an Invasive Streptococcal A Infection, Sepsis. As soon as this was revealed Paul and I had blood tests and chest x-rays to identify whether we had this infection too, we didn’t.

Now that I have explained what happened in William’s last days, what happened in the months leading up to William’s death might make more sense.

At the end of September I took William to the doctor with high temperature, red raw throat and generally unwell. Acute tonsillitis was diagnosed, 5 days of Amoxicillin was prescribed. At the beginning of October, William, by now slightly better but still not right came out in an aggressive pin prick red rash, I knew it wasn’t meningitis but immediately rushed him back to the doctors. Scarlet fever they said, the tonsillitis is part of scarlet fever, William was already on antibiotics so they said carry on with those and it should clear up in a couple of days.

The pin prick rash took days to clear up but William’s throat was better and his appetite had come back, I almost had my little boy back, although I loved the extra cuddles it was good to see him full of energy again. Now with William full of beans he developed a cough, no runny nose, no watery eyes, no temperature, just a cough. After a couple of days it hadn’t cleared up so on the 13th of October I packed William into the car and back to the doctors we went. Just a winter cold I was told, it’ll clear up shortly. William had just started nursery so he’s bound to pick up all sorts they said, something I could understand.

So, 12th November William had had a cough since early October, persistent and had gradually deteriorated which now saw him regularly coughing up sputum and vomiting 2, 3 or 4 times a day. So, off to the doctors we went. I was really concerned. I explained that William had been coughing since early October, continually with no let up and now was vomiting and coughing up sputum. The doctor listened to his chest for a long time  and said “I can definitely hear something, but his chest cavity is small so the sounds bounce off each other”. I asked whether antibiotics would be best, she said no, it’ll just be a childhood cold, the vomiting is just because he’s full of sputum. She gave us an inhaler as she recognised his breathing was slightly worse and off we went, again.

21st November, I had seen no improvement with the inhaler so I took William back to the doctors, by this point the nursery had asked us to supply them with a letter to explain that William’s vomiting was due to the cough and not a stomach bug. I went through all the symptoms once more, explained how they had deteriorated, how the inhaler was having no effect, how there is a history of lung disease in the family, but once again we were sent home. Just a cough. Just a cold. Kid’s have so many over the winter time.

So we trundled on, thinking nothing more, we trusted what they said, and William in himself was ok, the cough was a standard part of his day, the vomiting part of his feeding routine, like they said, he was full of phlegm.

We celebrated his first birthday on the 27th November with a lovely cake and lovely friends. Mummy was allowed a glass of wine because it was her birthday too. Sharing our birthdays only cemented how special our bond was and still is.

Happy birthday baby, Happy birthday mummy

Happy birthday baby, Happy birthday mummy

Birthday Smiles

Birthday Smiles

We were busy making plans, spending Christmas and New Year in Spain with my family, this required lots of organisation. We’d had the car serviced, the presents were bought, I’d finished work for Christmas, cleaning the house. The weekend that Grumpus died was the weekend before we travelled to Portsmouth to get the ferry. But it was never meant to be. 2 Days before we were due to travel, our lives changed forever.

There was an inquest in Grumpus’ death in June 2015, where we questioned why nothing was done, why we weren’t listened to, why no tests were done, no blood tests, no saliva samples, no further antibiotics, and no chest x-rays, nothing. William died so needlessly in an age where modern-day antibiotics  and treatment mean his final cause of death is uncommon.

William has paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we are paying for it for the rest of our lives. I will never accept it, it’s unacceptable, I will never understand it, because it’s not understandable, I can’t see reason with it, because it can’t be rationalised.

Maybe like me, you might read this blog and it might give you some comfort, someone else is going through the same life changing circumstances, experiencing pain that is also indescribable, a life of emptiness, with a million questions. If I can offer support to anyone through this blog that is experiencing the loss of a child, or if you feel you can offer me support then please get in touch.

You are not alone.

Please go to the blogs section using the menu to see my daily posts.

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89 thoughts on “My Story

  1. My heart is breaking after reading your blog, i can’t imagine what you’re going through, any parents worst nightmare. Thank you for sharing your story and making us all aware of this cruel disease.
    You’re incredibly brave and William will never be forgotten. Xxx

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  2. Dear Melissa,

    I’ve been watching your tragic story roll out over the past few days and my blood is boiling – partly for the tragic and unnecessary loss of your beautiful baby boy, but also because nothing ever seems to change – how many times does the Daily Mail (amongst others) have to cover tragic tales of misdiagnosis before something happens to change it?

    But my blood is also boiling because your story reminded me of our own horrendous experience of misdiagnosis. 15 years ago, our then 3 year old daughter, Isabel, slipped through so many nets, as you did, when GPs, A&E staff…you name it, failed to realise that her chicken pox had developed into Necrotising Fasciitis (the usually fatal flesh-eating bug). Miraculously, Isabel survived (albeit with long-term issues which, now aged 20, she is still battling with).

    Our response was to develop a Symptom Checker which we named after her. The Isabel Symptom Checker has now been helping Dr’s and patients around the world to diagnose their illnesses. While I was relieved to see the Symptom Checker suggests Sepsis when fed with the symptoms William was suffering from, as this means it will help (and has probably already helped) patients using it, I really hope this doesn’t cause you further grief to know that if any of your GPs had used such a tool, this tragedy might not have happened. You will probably share my frustration when I tell you that we have spent years and years trying to get the Symptom Checker adopted by the NHS. Hospitals around the US are great fans of the tool, as is our largest UK patient portal, Patient.co.uk which uses Isabel as its own Symptom Checker. Numerous meetings/emails/letters to Jeremy Hunt (who is even our local MP) seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Our tool was initially designed for use by Drs, but we became so frustrated that the uptake in this country was so poor (the usual response being “I don’t need a Symptom Checker as I never make mistakes”) that we decided to by-pass Doctors by offering it to the public for free: http://symptomchecker.isabelhealthcare.com/home/main, our key aim always being to stop more mistakes like yours being made. How many more cases of people like William and Isabel will it take to get the NHS to sit up and take action? What you’re doing with the Sepsis Trust is fantastic, and having been through something similar, albeit with a happier ending, I completely understand your need to channel your energy into something positive. If you have a minute to look at our site, I’d be interested to hear if you feel it could help diagnose future cases of Sepsis and hopefully prevent them from suffering in the way you and your family have had to.

    With my deepest sympathy and best wishes,
    Charlotte Maude

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  3. every time i read your posts i cry:( life is so unfair 😦 such a beautiful boy taken away because of somebodys mistakes and lack of care….:( i am so so sorry for your loss..
    my boy is 11 months and he too been unwell on and off since February… first he had stomach bug then flu next was conjunctivitis after that another stomach bug than just continues “common cold” now he has tonisilitis and is on antibiotics but how can we trust dr when mistakes like that happen all the time? im so paranoid something is going to happen to Oscar i cant sleep… i keep listening to him breath at night…thank you for all youre doing:) you are so strong:) William is so proud of you:)

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    • Aw thank you. I’m sorry to hear your little boy has been poorly, you just have to trust your instincts. If you’re not happy continue to question and make sure you don’t settle if you feel uneasy. Williams middle name is Oscar too xxx

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  4. My heart aches and cries for you and I wouldn’t want to imagine what you’ve been through and will go through, forever. I have hugged my 11 month boy a little tighter tonight after reading this.
    Fantastic that you’re raising awareness and keeping William’s name alive! xxx

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  5. I am so sorry for your loss, I could not read this without saying something. I know that nothing can ever bring your beautiful son back, but your campaigning in his name could save so many lives – I just wish you weren’t in a position to need to do it.

    Sending you love, and thank you for opening my eyes to this. X

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  6. Our Grandson died of Sepsis from a viral infection last November. It’s left me with lots of questions especially how a viral infection turns to Sepsis which untreated can kill. He came home from nursery with a cough on the Monday went to the doctors twice in the week including the Thursday when my daughter was told it was still viral. He was with his dad on the Friday and when he woke up from his sleep his lips were blue and his complexion was grey. He was eventually taken to hospital where his was given antibiotics but his condition worsened and he was taken to Great Ormond Street. Unfortunately they tried but were unable to save him and he died at 23.22pm on the Friday. We all have so many questions and don’t know where to start. He was only 34 months old and had so much to give. I’ve seen the doctors practice manager but my daughter hasn’t seen anyone but a counsellor. My husband, daughter and Tyler’s dad all have PTSD due to the shock and horror in which Tyler passed. Apparently the Sepsis had caused Tyler’s body to turn purple and because of all the fluids he’d been given it had caused him to bloat out like a balloon. Sorry to go on about this but I hoped you’d understand. Also maybe be able to refer me to someone to speak to about Sepsis. Sending you big hug. Xxx

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  7. I lost my daughter this past March from sepsis due to step throat. We are in the US, but we’re also constantly dismissed by the doctors. We were told that children under.one year could not get strep throat, so no one tested her it, despite me having it 2 weeks prior. I feel your pain and see so so many similarities in our experiences. They only tool us seriously once she was septic, but it was too late because I didnt know the symptoms and trusted my doctors. There has to be a better way to diagnose a virus vs bacteria. Please contact me to tell me how you learned to trust the medical system after they took your baby away. I’m afraid I can’t navigate this piece without extreme fear and anxiety.

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  8. My sister lost her daughter may 9 2015. That being my niece she was 46 , we were 6 years apart in age. She was always at my mom and dad’s of course that being her grandparents. So we grew up together her being more like my little sister. She was everywhere I was. Very beautiful bright child. I come from a large family of 14 . All through these years being close family. We never lost a loved one. When she passed from a drug over dose suicide. It has been so devestaing to me, but especially to her mother my sister. Even though some time has passed. I worry and hurt for my sister. A strong woman with so much pain and a look on her face of sadness. I so wish I could take her sorrows and put them on me. She has lost herself after losing her first born cyndi. I need some advice any would be so appreciated. Thank you and God bless. The longing to just hear laugh and have her love. Is overwhelming.

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    • I’m really sorry to hear of your devastating loss. Losing a child is for me a journey of unknowns. We never know what to expect or how we feel. There is so much that is unexpected and also a pressure from others and perhaps society that at some point we should ‘accept’ it or ‘move on’. It is virtually impossible in my experience to do that. One thing that I did very soon after losing William was to accept that I wasn’t going to accept it. That is my acceptance. Also that it is ok to not be ok, and where possible try not to put too much pressure on oneself. Be kind to your self, this is unknown territory x

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  9. I’ve spent the last few days on and off reading your blog and it prompted me to further question what happened to my son when he was 18 months old. I’ve never told this story publicly before but your campaign made me think maybe I should. My son had been unwell for a while with a severe upset stomach and vomiting as well as a high temperature so I kept him home from nursery with me (he had also seen a doctor who told me it was nothing to worry about). He had been asleep next to me on the sofa for most of the day but then he suddenly sat up and had a seizure. This had never happened before and I was naturally terrified. When the seizure ended he was limp, blue and not breathing so I had to perform CPR on him and call an ambulance. During the next 24 hours in hospital he had a further 8 seizures and a doctor took me to one side and told me if they couldn’t stabilise him soon they had the air ambulance on stand by to take him to Guys in London, this was the longest 24 hours of my life as I’ve no doubt you can imagine. Fortunately they managed to stabilise him and he and I spent the next week in hospital. The doctors took bloods and grew bio cultures to find out what had caused his illness and I was told that it was a staphylococcal infection but not really given any further information. He was discharged after a week and seen by paediatrics for a year afterwards but never at any point was the word sepsis used, it is only now 10 years later after asking my GP about my son’s history that I found out that is what it was! I was fortunate that my son was next to me when he had the first seizure as there is no doubt in my mind that he would not be here today otherwise. He is now 10 years old and still my only child as I was afraid to have any more after what happened. I’m so very sorry that you lost your precious son, I can only imagine how traumatic that has been for you but please know that the work you are doing is so important and worthwhile. I had never heard of Sepsis before I saw your page despite the fact my own child had suffered from it!

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  10. A friend just posted your video on FB. It quite literally took my breath away. I can’t begin to imagine the shock followed by the devastation. I also can’t imagine there is anything more difficult in the world than losing a child. Even though the video I saw was from a few years ago, I am so very very sorry for your loss and your heart ache. I hope your new baby was born happy, healthy and brought you and your family much joy.

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  11. I saw you on This morning and then read this. My heart ache for you.
    The same way it’s aching for my sweet baby Archie who died early this year from a virus.
    I was told “he’s just a sleepy baby” in the neonatal although he never opened his eyes, cried or fed.
    He became poorly quickly and then misdiagnosed with NEC.
    After two hospital transfers and a surgery to look at his bowels later, they had realised they had misdiagnosed. It took days took days to find out what was wrong as “they don’t often scree for virus” and he sadly passed at 13 days old.
    As a mother of not only him but a 19 month old girl, it’s hard to not look back in time and blame myself for not kicking up a fuss and demanding more tests or more doctors, my mothers instinct was there, but as you rightly said, they are the experts and to be trusted…

    I like you, will not accept it. I’ve been told “nothing could of been done” but I believe that to be just words.
    Thankyou so much for sharing your story, and raising awareness, your doing your precious William so proud, what a lovely mummy you are.
    All my love
    Annalise
    Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. I too lost my son. He was 31. He had ulcerative colitis. Been in and out of hospital. He had a perforated bowel n sepsis leaked into his system. I had only heard of this horrible poisoning once before. My best friends grandson had been born with a small hole in his heart so they sent him down to UCLA for surgery. He was doing wonderful n was going to be released in just a few days. His little body became infected then he was gone. His time on earth was only 14 days. He would be 20 now. More people do need to read n be informed on this poisoning. I tell people all the time to watch themselves when they become sick or get a cut…thank you for sharing your story…I wish there was something I could say to help you…God be with you…

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    • Oh my goodness I am so sorry to read this. There are no words of comfort are there. There’s no preparation or warning. Sepsis is so devastatingly quick and stops for no one. Like you say one minute they are here, the next they are gone. We’ll try to raise as much awareness of sepsis as possible and do everything we can to prevent others being in our position xx

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  13. I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious baby boy. My husband and I just survived the 1 year anniversary of our little girl passing away. She had a birth defect and passed away the same day she was born, full term. I will never understand why these things happen. I’ve started writing too, as a way of trying to make sense out of a situation that will never make sense. Thank you for sharing what you write.

    http://allthepassionstrings.com/category/ayden-nicole/

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  14. Hello 😉
    I am so so sorry ;( I lost my baby many years ago on Christmas to SIDS ;( it sucks!!!
    I am so so sorry for your loss!!! It’s so difficult!

    Can I share some gifts of the earth in essential oils that would ease and comfort this for you?
    I would love to share with you and gift you some of these oils that made such a difference for you.
    I am open to talk to you also 😉
    Much love to you
    Maree

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness I’m so sorry to read this. Really sorry I’ve only just seen it, I’ve not been checking my blog much recently. It doesn’t seem to get any easier does it. The oils sound lovely, thank you very much xx

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  15. I am so sorry for the loss of your lovely little boy. Early recognition is definitely the key, our 18 month old son was very ill last year and we were told similar things to yourselves by our GP and others (calpol, rest, just viral). It was just luck that we got to see an experienced pediatric doctor In August after our son nearly had a convulsion after weeks of being ill. They asked for a chest x ray and we got the immediate IV antibiotics he needed. But it shouldn’t be down to luck or chance in this day and age. I think your work to promote awareness of Sepsis and fundraising for change is a fantastic legacy. All my love and best wishes for the future xx

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  16. There are no words. I have two girls. My youngest is 14 months. William was a beautiful boy and he will no doubt save lots of lives. It is too easy to take life for granted. Thank you for sharing your story so that parents, like me, know what to look out for and what questions to ask. Xx

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